If you love animals, or know somebody who does, check out these five places around the world to get your fix of cute animals!
1. Quokkas: Rottnest Island, Australia
The island of Rottnest near Perth, Australia is the primary home of the quokkas – adorable marsupials that always look like they’re smiling. While quokkas are friendly and may seem super cuddly, the Rottnest Island Authority has advised visitors not to touch these creatures as they are known to leave nasty bites.
For more information, visit Rottnest Island.
2. Rabbit Island: Ōkunoshima, Japan
Bunny lovers, rejoice! Although Ōkunoshima has a dark history of being Japan's secret chemical weapons production site during World War II, it has been reborn as a tourist attraction thanks to its huge population of wild rabbits.
Visitors are encouraged to bring food for the rabbits, especially during the winter months when natural food sources are scarce. They enjoy carrots, cabbage, and rabbit feed (which can be purchased at the island’s hotel for about $1 per cup).
To get there, you will need need to take the Omishima Ferry from Tadanoumi station.
3. Pig Beach: Exuma, Bahamas
Swimming with dolphins is so last year. For a truly unique experience, try swimming with these athletic pigs that live on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay, also known as “Pig Beach”.
Visitors who wish to visit may book their visits through a variety of third-party vendors on The Bahamas Islands itself.
4. Doggy Shelter: Territorio De Zagüates, Costa Rica
This giant no-kill shelter is home to thousands of pooches that are allowed to roam freely. Territorio de Zaguates is a privately funded and volunteer-run shelter that sees dog-lovers coming in from all over the world especially to visit and potentially adopt the furkids.
If you’re not looking to adopt, don’t worry! The shelter welcomes visitors who wish to just pet and play with the pooches too.
5. Penguins: Boulders Beach, South Africa
Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town falls under the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area – making the beach clean and safe, and hardly ever crowded. This beach is also home to African Penguins (formerly known as “Jackass Penguins” because of their distinctive braying) and an entire colony of them can be found there.
As the birds spend most of September and October feeding out at sea, it can be a little hard to spot them during these two months. As such, the best time to visit is summer.
Oh, and don’t be fooled by these cute birds’ angelic faces! Their beaks are super sharp, so always remember to keep a safe distance and be careful around them.
*This article was updated on 26 Jul 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com on 21 Nov 2016.